Through Industrial Promotion Services (WA), the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development (AKFED) has been active in Burkina Faso for almost 20 years. Today, it operates three companies and is the largest private employer in the country.
SOSUCO can trace its history back to the early years of independence, when Burkina Faso was still called Upper Volta. It was established in 1968 as a state-owned company at Banfora, in the southwest of the country, under the name Société de Sucre de la Haute-Volta (So.Su.HV), and was renamed Société Sucrière de la Comoé (SO SU CO) a few years later. After thirty years, the company was privatised. IPS(WA) took control in 1998, working alongside the national government and local private investors. Based in a sugar-growing area of around 10,000 hectares, the sugar cane fields of SOSUCO cover nearly 4,000 hectares in the south-west of the country. The company operates the country's only sugar refinery. Between November and April, more than 3,000 people cut and transport the sugar canes to the factory, which runs 24 hours a day throughout the harvest season. The Banfora area near the company is home to 70,000 people. Social services to farmers include basic education, microfinance, health-care and programmes for clean drinking water. Today, SOSUCO is the biggest private employer in Burkina Faso.
Fasoplast manufactures polypropylene bags that are used to bring a variety of products to market including cereal, flour, cotton seeds and other food crops. Originally developed in the Ivory Coast, this expertise has since been transferred to Burkina Faso, as well as Mali, Senegal and Kenya. In more recent years, the emphasis has also been on rigid packaging. One of the plant’s flagship products is an injection-moulded drinks crate made from polyethylene or polypropylene. The factory also produces drinks containers, bottles, barrels and jerry cans.
Taking advantage of the privatisation of Burkina Faso’s cotton sector, IPS(WA) acquired the ginning factory and associated agricultural assets in the central region of the country and established Faso Coton in 2004. The company works with around 30,000 producers. Faso Coton very quickly followed the development model of Ivoire Coton, which was established by IPS in 1998. However, the big concern of cotton growers in Burkina Faso is the low yield per hectare because of poor soil fertility levels. Faced with poor harvests in Burkina Faso, Faso Coton is training its producers in conservation agriculture techniques designed to improve soil fertility. Today, Faso Coton’s factory turns out an average of 350 bales each day. Most of them are bound for the port of Lomé, capital of Togo. As well as the cotton ginnerie, the company supplies the local edible oil and animal feed producers with seeds, exports fiber, and provides agricultural extension services to 15,000 local cotton farmers.